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A.J.

I am an avid reader of several genres, but Mystery/Suspense is my favorite. I also churn through quite a bit of non-fiction.

Member Since 2005

ratings
86
REVIEWS
4
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
3

  • Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Hal Herzog
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (130)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (92)

    Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is a highly entertaining and illuminating journey through the full spectrum of human-animal relations, based on Herzog's groundbreaking research on animal rights activists, cockfighters, professional dog show handlers, veterinary students, and biomedical researchers. Blending anthropology, history, brain science, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy, Herzog carefully crafts a seamless narrative.

    Fara says: "Thorough and beautifully written"
    "Fascinating Insight into the Mind of Humankind"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat in three words, what would they be?

    The title really says it best. We humans often suffer under the delusion that what separates us from the animals is our rational minds. This book deflates that myth. It lights the way with a detailed analysis of how we think as we do about our fellow animals on this planet. Herzog takes us through many of the ways that the human psyche leads us into cognitive traps.

    It is good to be reminded that all our drives, preferences, and fears often have no basis in logic. It is hard to remain smug about one's own "superior" choices when faced with the fact that many of our own assumptions--whether we be vegetarians or carnivores, Republicans or Democrats--have no basis in fact or logic.

    Herzog's book applies to vegans and carnivores alike--a thought-provoking look into why we feel as we do about our role on this planet, as it regards animals.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book was BOTH light-hearted AND thought-provoking. Not a usual mix. Never thought the dissection of the psyche could be fun. I was wrong.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Strip Tease

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Carl Hiaasen
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (546)
    Performance
    (438)
    Story
    (438)

    No matter what you heard or thought about the movie version of Strip Tease, forget it. Film simply can’t catch the layers of humor, satire, and imagination that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carl Hiaasen creates in each of his novels.

    Edmond Clement says: "A total delightr"
    "One of Hiaasen's Best!!!!!!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Strip Tease?

    I was hooked by this one within the first minute. No one sets a scene and develops characters quite the way this author does.

    While less mad-cap than many of his other books, Hiaasen's wit still shines through in this one. It is so difficult to weave a story featuring such numerous characters, but this author is up to the challenge. The way in which he ties together so many quirky, richly-layered characters is a hallmark of Hiaasen novels. His characters and the events in which they are immersed is simultaneously outlandish and utterly believable.



    What did you like best about this story?

    Erin is a sympathetic character. I find myself surprised that I can identify with a stripper.


    What about George Wilson’s performance did you like?

    Wilson's performance was enthralling. He shifts voices between characters flawlessly. This man is a genius! I could see the whole book in my head, thanks to him. Wilson knows how to develop a character just as well as Hiaasen does.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Truly this was one of those books, but sadly, I had to stop for little things--like work, and human interaction.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't let the movie of the same name scare you off this book. This is a masterful work of storytelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Dean Buonomano
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (140)

    With its trillions of connections, the human brain is more beautiful and complex than anything we could ever build, but it’s far from perfect: our memory is unreliable; we can’t multiply large sums in our heads; advertising manipulates our judgment; we tend to distrust people who are different from us; supernatural beliefs and superstitions are hard to shake; we prefer instant gratification to long-term gain; and what we presume to be rational decisions are often anything but.

    Sean says: "Superficial, but mostly correct"
    "Fascinating look at the evolution of the human min"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Brain Bugs?

    The way Buonomano revealed the layers of human thought processes was fascinating. I was so surprised to find the myriad ways in which we are not the rational beings we would like to think we are. I am glad to be made aware of how often my emotional little lizard-brain takes control and runs roughshod over my rational frontal lobe processes. Being made aware of how I often make unaware decisions can only enhance my functioning as a critically-thinking, rational human being.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narration by William Hughes was a bit disappointing--and at times it was downright ANNOYING! I'm not sure who is most to blame for the quality of the final recording: 1) Hughes, who mispronounces words often enough to grate the nerves badly and throw off the flow of the recording (pronouncing "amalgam" as "AM-uhl-GAM," rather than "Uh-MAL-guhm" and stating that our high-tech devices have "silicone" chips, rather than "silicon" chips. These were among some of the more egregious mispronunciations.)--OR--2) The people who edited this production, who must ALSO have been unaware of these mistakes and mispronunciations and their distracting nature.


    Any additional comments?

    While the voice of the narrator was pleasant enough, he should not be employed to narrate audiobooks on scientific topics again. I know that most audiobooks are narrated by trained actors, as they are normally best at capturing the feel, the emotional weight, of the pieces they are reading. This is not, however, a good fit for works of non-fiction--especially works regarding science. Generally speaking, most actors have little background in the hard sciences. Perhaps the producers of audiobooks on scientific subjects might seek out notable exceptions to this, such as Dr. Mayim Bialik, who is a neuroscientist, but who has worked as an actress since childhood. Certainly, she is a rare bird, but perhaps there are other happy mediums between trained actors and persons with backgrounds in science.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Red Mist

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Patricia Cornwell
    • Narrated By Kate Burton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1108)
    Performance
    (883)
    Story
    (892)

    Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated. But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding's death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning....

    Rene says: "Too much dialog, too little story"
    "There IS such a thing as TOO MUCH DRAMA"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Red Mist?

    Over two decades ago, Cornwell's book, "Postmortem," really sank a hook into me. It was richly layered, suspenseful, filled with scientific and other technical details--all wrapped around a strong, intelligent central character. With each new book, however, I found myself wishing more for the punch of her first Scarpetta novel. The Scarpetta series has now devolved incrementally into a sad, pathetic caricature of the substance of the original. The dew has incrementally left the rose.


    What was most disappointing about Patricia Cornwell’s story?

    The Scarpetta line is played-out. Each book is worse and worse.Scarpetta is descended into a Hell of interpersonal grievances, both petty and great. The personal/interpersonal drama is overshadowing the previous merits of the series. Those characters close to her have all disappointed her on numerous occasions--and Kay is never to blame in any souring of her interactions with the people in her life. The brilliant, dogged, strong Dr. Scarpetta has morphed into the grandiose, driven, spiteful Kay.

    There are myriad evilly-brilliant super-villains, all waiting to personally target Scarpetta, and those she claims to love (but who are never good enough for her). Rather than suspenseful, fast-paced, rich tales, we now have a series of personal screeds about how everybody is out to hurt or disappoint Cornwell--oops! I mean, Scarpetta! Seriously though, Scarpetta is really beginning to look like a tool--a mere device--with which Cornwell shows her disdain for a world full of people whom she finds sorely lacking in SOMETHING.

    As the current popularity of "reality"-based TV illustrates, America loves over-blown, back-biting DRAMA. However, this series should be too much, even for fans of Survivor, and The Jerry Springer Show.

    This time, I mean it: I will not buy another Scarpetta book, and I will likely not even buy another Cornwell novel, either. I just have to accept that there will never be another Postmortem- quality book from Cornwell again.

    I was surprised to read recently that Patricia Cornwell has publicly acknowledged being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. After more than two decades of reading her books, I have come to see Scarpetta as a thinly-veiled, at least semi-biographical manifestation of a disordered personality, specifically elements of Borderline Personality Disorder, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If that interpretation is wrong, and Cornwell isn't a candidate for either of those diagnoses--It is a sure bet that Scarpetta IS.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration far out-shined the story, itself. But not even a stellar narration would save this over-wrought, self-absorbed, tedious tripe-filled tome. (And yes--I know that sounds excessive--I'm just furious with MYSELF for having hoped, still one more time, that the brilliance of Postmortem would manifest itself again.)


    What character would you cut from Red Mist?

    Sadly, it is Scarpetta, herself, who needs to be cut out of Red Mist. A close second would be Kay's niece, Lucy. Lucy, like Kay, appears to be an alter-ego of Cornwell. And also like Kay, she is a brooding, bitter, self-absorbed vehicle for DRAMA.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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